This weekend, I stumbled upon a YouTube video so articulately titled, “Don’t Stay in School”.
At first watch, I was inclined to dismiss it as a silly creation, but the song tossed around in my head the entire day. I realized: I can relate to this. Yes, everything he is saying makes so much sense! Or does it?
“If you can’t explain why a subject is applicable to most people’s lives, that subject should not be mandatory…Nobody should be forced to learn something that isn’t practically useful.”
Yes, but how can anyone possibly know what pieces of information will be applicable to the rest of their lives in high school? How many of us actually knew what we wanted to become in high school?
“Introduce those topics, yes.” But all of high school IS introducing various topics. The basics of mathematics, science, english, and history – principles that changed the world and have led us to where we are right now – are taught, and we can choose what we like and continue on with it.
The “practical information” mentioned in the video – first aid, human rights, current events, financial information – are concepts that do not require years of study to understand; in fact, we learn most of them even through experience and exposure to the world.
However, algebra, geometry, and calculus cannot be learned so quickly – they require years of study and building upon concepts. The history of the human race – essential in learning from our past mistakes and successes – cannot be “introduced” so quickly. The biology of how our body works and the chemistry of the world around us took centuries to understand and cannot be introduced so lightly, either.
That said, yes, it is true that not everyone will find these topics useful in later life. But how will you know that you won’t use this, don’t like that or don’t want to learn about this until after you know about it? I’ve personally changed my career plans several times after taking certain classes, even if I did not find those topics “useful” or “practical” in the beginning. If we all stopped learning things we don’t find practical or useful, humankind would never progress.
All being said, I am not saying that there is no problem in our educational system. Certainly, real life skills are not emphasized as much, but all of what we learn is not impractical “trivia”, no matter how useless it may appear.